What’s in a name?


In 2022 the National Park Authority stated that they were going to be calling Snowdon ‘Yr Wyddfa’ first, with ‘Snowdon’ as a secondary name. This was no big deal, for most of the park staff are first-language Welsh speakers who would naturally call it that anyway and all of their material is produced bilingually. Nevertheless, it was a step forward to announce that henceforth they would be calling it ‘Yr Wyddfa’ first and foremost, rather than giving the names equal status.

Similarly, they announced that the National Park would be foremost referred to as ‘Eryri’, with the name ‘Snowdonia’ coming second.

Some took this to mean that the names of the mountain and the national park were officially changing, but in reality nothing has changed.

Worse, some outsiders (not the Park itself) insisted that people ditch the English names and start only using the Welsh names, but they have no right to insist on this. It’s not uncommon to see a social media comment about ‘Snowdon’ being met with a response such as “It’s called Yr Wyddfa, not Snowdon.”

Then in 2023, the Brecon Beacons National Park went a step further and announced that they would ONLY be using the name Bannau Brycheiniog and not using the English name at all.

Again there was much keyboard warring on the subject, fuelled somewhat when the Prime Minster (Rishi Sunak) declared that he would still be using the English name.

It should be stated that both national parks have a joint English name by constitution, and an Act of Parliament would be necessary to change this.

But look, let’s keep this in perspective …

Do we call Munich by its German name (Müschen)? Or Prague by its Czech name (Praha)?

Do we call Norway by its Norwegan name (Norge) or Poland by its Polish name (Polska)?

Do we call Everest by its Nepali name, even?

The list is endless – there are thousands of places across the world which we don’t call by their native name – so why are some people making a fuss just because some English speakers don’t want to call Yr Wyddfa and Eryri by their native Welsh names?  (In fact, they’ve probably missed it all anyway if they don’t follow Welsh news or social media.)

Don’t get me wrong – here at SnowdonInfo we’re Welsh speakers, and we love to hear visitors calling places by their Welsh names (and using basic Welsh greetings or words), but we’re not going to ram it down people’s throats, and we’re the slightest offended by those who prefer not to use the Welsh names.

Let’s be sensible about this, eh?

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